Why even watch Arsenal v United, it’s just going to go badly, right?
After last weekend, it may be tough to look forward to another game. Many Arsenal fans are surely dreading another big game matchup especially against Manchester United this Sunday, but there are still a few reasons to be hopeful and tune in.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance….
For starters, Champions League football is still a possibility. It is quite slighgt, but Arsenal may luck out and snag a spot in Europe’s elite competition.
Finishing in the top four is probably out of the question. However, Manchester United are still alive in the Europa League. If the Red Devils were to finish on top in that competition and also finish in the top four, then the fifth placed Premier League team would get the qualification spot usually reserved for fourth.
Arsenal currently sit six points behind Manchester City with a game in hand and nine points behind Liverpool with two games in hand. Manchester United are one point behind Manchester City. This situation is extremely unlikely, yes.
But stranger things have happened—Spurs’ collapse last season, for instance.
A chance of beating an arch-nemesis
Aside from the larger implications, the possibility of beating Jose Mourinho is always enough to get fans excited for a match. Beating a snide manager who has always been a thorn in Wenger’s side would not fail to bring a smile to Arsenal fans’ faces in these depressing times.
Earlier this season, Giroud snatched a draw at the death when Manchester United’s defence for some reason decided not to mark him in the box. The big Frenchman powered a header home to take a point from Old Trafford in the 89th minute.
Many Arsenal fans felt that the Gunners got absolutely dominated that day, and might be dreading the rematch. But in fact, Arsenal had more possession (54%) and passes (434 to 352). Arsenal took fewer shots—7 for Arsenal versus 12 for Manchester United—but made the most of them.
Expected goals (xG) is an attempt to quantify how “good” a shot was. It is a shot from a certain location multiplied by the amount of times that shot is scored. Arsenal had 0.52 xG on the day, and Manchester United had 0.86. However, Giroud’s header accounts for 0.31 of that total; clearly the best chance of the game. Arsenal struggled to make quality chances until the end, and capitalized on a huge one.
But Mourinho’s side struggled to create quality chances as well.
To come out on top and give Mourinho the metaphorical smacking he so deserves, Arsenal need to make more of their possession.
In games where Arsenal have to play on the break (like Sunday against Spurs), Giroud is not the best choice. However, in games where Arsenal have a majority of the possession but struggle to break down teams in the final third (like Mourinho and his blasted bus), Giroud should draw strong consideration. Lobbing it onto his “meaty French forehead,” as Arlo White (NBC Sports—USA) loves to say, is a fantastic plan B.
Olivier is also more talented with his passing than his frame would allow you to assume. Never forget this:
Hopefully, Giroud and the rest of the team will learn from the last match and fix their mistakes.
Manchester United are missing Zlatan, so the defence will need to prepare for Martial (if Rashford can’t shake off his injury) and the pacier attack that they rolled out against Swansea last weekend.
Pogba and Bailly are expected to be back, and Smalling and Jones might also be available. It will be a tough test, and the Gunners will need to put the bad defeat at Spurs out of sight and mind if they are to finally vanquish Mourinho on what could be his and Wenger’s final meeting.
This nightmare of a season is drawing to a close.
Maybe the boys can bring a few bits of joy to end it on a high note.
Data from WhoScored.com
Some sources are saying that England will only get 5 teams in the Champions League if United win the Europa League and do not finish in the top four.
Winning the Europa League AND finishing fourth would vacate a spot in the play-off round normally given to England. I operated under the assumption that this now open slot would be given to the next highest England club, since qualification by the Europa League is a different route.
SOMEONE has to play in that game.
This is uncharted territory, and the page I found on UEFA’s site did not directly address this situation. It says that the next team will go to the Europa League, HOWEVER that is only when describing a situation when BOTH the UCL and UEL winners are from the SAME league.